The National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum
Mary Holleran — 2023

Mary T. Holleran Honored with 17th Annual Rebecca Lukens Award

The National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum (NISHM) in Coatesville, PA, along with the Gunard Berry Carlson Memorial Foundation, PECO, and The Stewart Huston Charitable Trust is pleased to announce its 17th annual Rebecca Lukens Award to be presented to noted community-builder, Mary T. Holleran. For the past 45 years, Ms. Holleran has been entwined with many community-service projects in Coatesville and Downingtown, as well as being the owner of Studio 3 framing shop in Downingtown from 1978 to 2009. 

Ms. Holleran served on the board of the Brandywine Health Foundation (now the Alliance For Health Equity) in Coatesville and was the chairwoman of their Garden Party event for ten years. She was also a board member at the Brandywine YMCA and the Downingtown Main Street program. She’s been a recipient of many community/regional awards, as well as serving on numerous other boards and committees. One of her crowning achievements is the Barbara Travaglini Building at the Downingtown Library in Downingtown, PA. She spearheaded the fundraising effort, garnering some $400,000 for the building renovations for the new library, which is part of the Chester County Library System. Coincidentally, Ms. Barbara Travaglini was also a much-lauded Rebecca Lukens Honoree in 2009. “I’m just so thrilled that grandchildren like my Elijah and Clara Grace can have a wonderful place to visit (and someday walk to) for all of their literary needs,” says Mary.


Mary T. Holleran:

Ms. Holleran was born in Coatesville to an Irish industrial engineer father, with winning ways, who worked at Lukens Steel and a Phi Beta Kappa, accountant mother.  Her father was an active member of the board of Brandywine Hospital. Upon his passing, her mother continued in his role on that board. It’s not difficult to see where Mary’s love of community service was honed. The (now) eldest of five children, Ms. Holleran credits the fabric of strong family ties for the goals she set for herself. 

Family Life:

For anyone who has met Mary, knows that family life is the core of her being. Not only were her parents, sisters, and brothers instrumental in her development, but her husband and children were her bedrocks. Married to David Proctor in 1976, she raised two remarkable daughters with him, Elizabeth Holleran Hess, and Laura Holleran DeMatteo. The multitude of customers of Studio 3 recall the annual postcards that featured the two beautiful children in the store windows. Yet, for all of her professional accomplishments, Mary will tell you that being a “Homeroom Mom” was by far one of her greatest and most important achievements. She is her mother’s daughter. “My mom could have run a Fortune 500 company, but she fell in love with a charming guy from Coatesville and married him,” says Mary.” They had five beautiful children together and even when my brother, Ricky, died at 13-years-old, they remained strong and committed to one another, and to us.”

As a student at the all-female Regis College in Weston, Massachusetts, Mary’s liberal arts education began to take shape. It was there, with the help of a mentor, Sister Marie de Sales, that her passion for fine arts bubbled to the surface. Her independence was also crystalized by taking the trolley into Boston each Saturday and experiencing all the beauty that Harvard Square had to offer.

Growing Up In Coatesville:

Mary wistfully recalls her childhood in Coatesville, “Since my father worked at Lukens Steel, he’d drop my brother, Kevin, and I off at my nana’s house on 8th Avenue in the morning. Before he’d pick us up at dinnertime, we’d spend the entire day exploring the nooks and crannies of the City of Coatesville. Living there taught me the importance of living in a “walkable community”, something that I looked for years later when, as a married woman, we moved to the borough of Downingtown and into a 122-year-old Victorian. Yet, during those Coatesville summers, Kevin and I would walk to the Hobby Shop on Main Street or go to the library (which was housed in an impressive old home at the time). On really warm days, we’d sip sodas at the fountain at Hope’s Drug Store or go for a swim at the old “Y” with the Buffalo Head in the lobby.  We’d enjoy playing with the turtles at Newberry’s Five & Dime or packing a lunch for the meadows of Elmwood Gardens. To really cool off, we’d sit in the air-conditioned movie theater, the Auditorium, and watch Bambi, one more time. Those were days I truly cherished.” 

Like Rebecca Lukens before her, Mary realized the value of believing in her community. “When people ask me where I am from,” recalls Mary, “I always say, ‘Coatesville’. I’m a Coatesville girl!  I’m so very proud of Coatesville with all the wonderful changes that are happening in the city right now. I just know it’s destined for success!”

NISHM Lauds Honoree:

Mr. Scott G. Huston, the National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum’s President, applauds this year’s choice for the Rebecca Lukens Award. “Mary T. Holleran has been a true friend to Coatesville (and NISHM). For years, I took many treasured artifacts to Studio 3 for framing. Mary always treated these irreplaceable documents with professionalism and care. She and her brother, Kevin, have been staunch supporters of all we do here at the museum. We’re grateful for the voice they lend to our institution.” James Ziegler, Executive Director, concurs with Mr. Huston, “Mary has been a wonderful asset to Coatesville and its surrounds. This community is by far a better place because of Mary Holleran.”

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